Not Honest. But True.

Throughout this year, between the endless mountains of packed snow and the minutes stuck at the same morning traffic lights, I find myself singing the final chorus of this song over and over, accompanied by my boys on occasion, and other times as if my insides are pouring over the steering wheel. And that gorgeous gorgeous trumpet line…”You let the devil in your home!”

So sad to miss their show here in August.

Typhoon | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.


And I’m Going Down…

On occasion you find yourself doing things that seem strange to your notion of yourself. Like drinking a 16oz Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sometimes these strange details don’t bend your mind much, because you’re doing exactly the right thing. Which is to be drinking that PBR at an A.A. Bondy show with other people who clearly know the man’s music, understand that there’s something about what he does that will never signify super-stardom, but is, among all today’s drek, true. Normally when a musician sings and plays with eyes closed I wonder if it’s not a bit too affected. But that understated voice…Bondy, it is clear, is somewhere else when he plays. That somewhere must be a hard place, and I don’t envy him his demons, be they dark as pitch or just a light, gray rain.

There were couples, and singles, and old folks listening. I wished I’d recorded the whole thing in a 360 surround screen, it was that good. I don’t know if this description is accurate, but it hints at a respect for a performer that I haven’t seen in years from an audience. Even between songs people stayed quiet, understanding that spaces are just as much a part of the whole as anything else. And when, during one of those spaces, a woman called out, We love you Scott Bondy, he said exactly the right thing: Thank you, darling.

My barbaric yawp

Although Nathaniel Rateliff has left his former band The Wheel behind, he hasn’t lost his capacity for singing outwardly about the inner.  A wonderful new album, In Memory of Loss, is out now and I was lucky enough to catch him at a Brooklyn venue with about 30 others.  The first time I heard the Whitman-esque yawp at that ends this song, I felt as if I was listening somehow to a Native American voice expressing what words can never say.  Extraordinary.  For another version, accompanied by bassist Julie Davis, go here.

Underground Supper Club

As far as concepts go, Washington DC isn’t particularly a cutting-edge leader.  Leadership, when it appears, tends to be on the political stage, often high on theory and low in execution, and frankly has been disappointing in the past decade of rancorous partisan politicking.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I explained the concept of an underground supper club to some colleagues and was met with apprehension and skepticism.  Aside from being a gentle reminder that bureaucracies can coax creativity and adventure from us, it did strangely empower me to just go have a good time trying something new.

And so there was this last week in WaPo.  As I said to some, better the Food page than the front page.

The strangest thing since? All sorts of congratulatory emails (“cool” was the most frequent word used, which just shows how uncool I am), and having someone come into the elevator I was riding and say, “Hey, Mr. Secret Dinner!”

If I Married a Pedal Steel Player

Sometimes you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a live performance.  Some months ago I had a chance to see Langhorne Slim at the Rock and Roll Hotel, a small, DC locale.  Since then I’ve  been drawn fully into the motif, so much so that I’ve begun thinking how good life could be if I married a pedal steel player.  Last night I spent a Sunday evening seated, taking a trip through blues, honkytonk, and that old Americana that is so fashionable overseas and just so worth listening to.  Justin Townes Earle, with friends on the fiddle and upright bass, dressed in a bow-tie and skinny suit, blew me away.  Or blew me further away, because I was pretty far gone after listening to Joe Pug, who opened with his guitar and yes, a friend on the pedal steel. The thing about is that it’s much closer to poetry than other genres.  And it feels American, weighted by baggage and influence.  And sometimes it’s just about songwriters being songwriters in their own quirky, tattooed, lamb chop sideburns way, providing life’s answers much better than I could in writing.  You can listen here or just watch.

Langhorne Slim “I Love You But Goodbye”.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Justin Townes Earle @ Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN January 27th 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Your Pic Here

It appears that some kids are taking a break from Facebook because it takes up too much of their time.  I don’t mind FB, though there are some folks who appear to be on it constantly.  I’m intrigued less by the daily updates and more by the other changes people make, like changing their profile picture.  One friend, who is smitten by a new-found relationship, has updated with a soft-toned, warm picture.  Another’s pictures reflects his mood, particularly on Sundays after a football game.  And another changed his because his Mom (his Mom is on FB?) didn’t like his photo.  Sometimes people just don’t want to be seen.  And sometimes it’s just nice to see people.